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Co-pilot arrested in Michigan on suspicion of being drunk

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- A co-pilot on a charter plane in northern Michigan has been arrested after the plane’s captain suspected that he was drunk.

Traverse City police Capt. Kevin Dunklow says a breath test Thursday showed the co-pilot had a blood-alcohol level of 0.30, nearly four times the legal threshold for driving.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that 35-year-old Sean Michael Fitzgerald of Boca Raton, Florida, was arraigned Friday on a misdemeanor charge.

Defense attorney Patrick Fragel declined to comment. Fitzgerald’s preliminary examination is Sept. 8.

Captain Manny Ramirez alerted the police about his colleague’s condition, CBS Cadillac affiliate WWTV reports.

“He had the strong odor of intoxicants emanating from his person,” Dunklow told the station. “He had slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes.”

The co-pilot flies for Farmingdale, New York-based Talon Air, which said in a statement to WWTV that the co-pilot was “immediately terminated.” The plane didn’t leave Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City.

“This is yet another example of Talon Air’s safety procedures working effectively on behalf of our clients and for airport safety,” the company said, in addition to it being “very proud” of Ramirez.

Separately, an American Airlines co-pilot accused of trying to fly while drunk pleaded no contest Wednesday at a Detroit-area court. He was placed on probation.

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